These reflections have led full circle to the same place as the earlier words on the Church as a true home for the human heart. I said in that chapter that the Church is the place where incomparable singularity and universal communion intersect. We see the same to be true here and now, from a different perspective. The Church is not the place where the individual is anonymously fitted into the abstract and ideal, the place in which the unique person is depersonalized for the sake of service, for the sake of the whole, but rather the opposite: the Church is the home in which each person is welcomed in his or her singularity into the embrace of the universal family.

Contrary to the words of Adrienne von Speyr, who said that “the essence of the Catholic is that anyone can be everyone,” we can affirm the very opposite: the essence of the Catholic is that each person is irreplaceable, precisely in the embrace of intimacy and love, which is founded on the incomparable dignity of the person. Contrary to the materialistic individualism of contemporary Western culture, the individual has been created, not with the crushing burden of creating security for himself or herself, of defining, determining, and creating reality out of the isolation resources of the self, but rather to find gratuitous fulfillment and perfect security in the embrace of love, both human and divine. Contrary to the thesis of Hans Urs von Balthasar that holiness consists in depersonalization and anonymity in mission—and who said that God chooses victims anonymously, at random, without regard for person, simply because they are needed by the whole—we can affirm that the very opposite is the case: God uniquely chooses each and every person to be a part of his holy family simply because he loves them, and because in and through their incorporation into this family, they will find the fulfillment of their existence and the flowering of their desires in the embrace of universal communion. Contrary to the atheistic ideologies of the twentieth century—Nazism and Communism—which continue to crop up under different guises to this day, and which claim that the nation or state has primacy and that the individual finds himself in sacrificing himself for this great cause, we can affirm that the very opposite is the case: in the Church alone, in the heart of the Gospel, the individual is safeguarded, affirmed, and fulfilled even in the very laying down of his life for others, such that he does not “lose his life,” but rather, in the embrace of the Trinity and in the communion of saints, “finds his life” (Mt 16:25).

Let me try to tie the strands together. How have the reflections on the intersection of vocations shown the sanctity and irreplaceable dignity of each singular individual, sheltered and fulfilled precisely in the embrace of the Trinity’s communion and in the communion of all human persons in the Church? Maybe I can give the answer in the form of a question: Haven’t I been speaking precisely of singular persons whenever speaking of that most universal mystery in which each one of us, in our own singularity, is called to participate? I have spoken of Jesus, the beloved Son of the Father made flesh to be with us; I have spoken of the Virgin Mary and of Saint Joseph, and of the profound intimacy of their marital and virginal love; I have spoken of Saint Peter, who experienced his whole life pervaded by the love and mercy of Christ, and who was entrusted with protecting and caring for those whom Christ had redeemed; I have spoken of Saint John, who leaned against the Lord’s breast at the Last Supper and was entrusted to Mary (and in turn received her) as he stood at the foot of the Cross. These are all individual persons who were gratuitously loved by God incarnate in Christ, and who let their lives be swept up into the embrace of the Trinity in and through him. And we, two-thousand years later, are continuing to be drawn into loving relationship with them! They are not dead and lost. They are not forgotten. Rather, they continue to be present to us in intimate love, as fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, and friends!

They are not abstract ideas. They are not archetypes. They are not ideals or mere examples. No, they are persons who are with us to this very day, who are close to us, accompanying us on our path through this life until we ourselves find rest in the consummation of heaven. And they are close to us because they live in the world-cradling embrace of the Church, because they live in God—“for to God all things are alive” (Lk 20:38)—and thus have entered into the sphere of universal communion that transcends time and space, while affirming, protecting, and fulfilling their unique and singular personal beauty in intimacy with the Trinity and with all persons. And they desire the same destiny, the same beautiful existence, for each one of us; and they reach out to us, they draw near to us, they give themselves to us, so that we may accept this gift of their closeness, may accept being a part of their family, and may share with them in the very joy of the uncreated Family of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for all eternity.

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How beautiful is this convergence point, how beautiful is this living space of all-embracing intimacy! Here we come to understand how truly, how deeply the Resurrection has inaugurated a new form of life at the very heart of the universe, and will carry the universe definitively into this life at the end of time. Whenever he burst the boundaries of death and passed fully into the life of God, Jesus Christ opened up an entirely new form of existence for all of humanity, indeed for the whole created order. He became the “first fruits of the resurrection” (cf. 1 Cor 15:23), the “first-born from the dead” (Col 1:18), and now, joined to him who has joined himself to us, and who breathes into us and through us the Holy Spirit, “the whole creation cries out with inexpressible groaning, as it awaits for the liberty of the children of God, the redemption of the body” (Rom 8:23).

Christ’s Body, his literal, incarnate, material Body, has become utterly permeated with the living beauty of his uncreated Person, and indeed is fully saturated with the inner life of the Most Holy Trinity, which vibrates through this Body without ceasing and without limit. Thus the Risen Body of Christ has become what the body was always meant to be; indeed, it has become the Body in which every body finds rest and fulfillment. The Body of the Son of God is the Convergence Point where all lines converge, where all restless human persons thirsting for true and definitive intimacy, and in us the whole created universe, are lifted up into the innermost embrace of the Trinity.

He is Communion. He is Love. He is an incomparably beautiful Person utterly open in acceptance of the Other and reciprocal gift of self, an openness and vulnerability, a nakedness, which is eternally sealed and consummated in perfect intimacy. His Body is a filial body: the Body of the Son. “You are my beloved Son, in whom my soul delights” (Mk 1:11). His Body is a spousal body: the Body of the Bridegroom. “He who has the bride is the Bridegroom” (Jn 3:29). His Body is a paternal body: the pure image and transparent reflection of the love of the heavenly Father. “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9).

In Christ, Incarnate, Crucified, and Risen, all the original experiences of humanity—fashioned in the image and likeness of God—are healed, restored, and super-fulfilled, and they are fulfilled precisely through being taken up into the very innermost mystery of the life of God. They are taken up into the eternal circulation of love ever occurring in the intimate space between the Father and the Son, in the living breath of love which is their one Spirit. Now solitude is utterly permeated by presence, by the mutual attentiveness and awe-filled embrace of Lover and Beloved. Now nakedness is utterly secure in the complete transparency of self-disclosure, secure because held, pervaded, and absorbed in the virginal gaze of cherishing Love. Now intimacy is consummated in utter confidence and undying constancy, in the utmost closeness that surpasses anything that a human mind or imagination can grasp on its own power: an intimacy in which Lover lives in the Beloved, and the Beloved in the Lover, in which Persons indwell in one another while remaining distinct in their singular beauty, on the basis of their mutual affirmation and the joy of their shared embrace.

And it is through our relationship with this singular Man, this New Adam, this incomparable Person of the Beloved Son of the Father who became the Son of Mary for our sake—and who lived an unrepeatable life in the fabric of history—that we enter into the heart of this great Mystery. Diverse though we are—indeed, scattered like sheep on the hillsides through sin and division (Is 53:6-7; Jn 11:51-52)—we are drawn together into unity through our union with Jesus Christ. He gathers us together, like a divine Magnet which, reaching out and touching the scattered pieces of metal spread to and fro and lost in the dust, lifts them up into harmony and unity within himself in his utter surrender to the Father. Yes, for he sweeps us up into his own magnetism which polarizes him entirely to his Father, this magnetism who is the very presence and energy of the Holy Spirit, whose very activity is to draw to the Father, and, in drawing to the Father, to draw into unity.